When you or someone in your family is unwell the first point of contact is usually a primary healthcare provider such as a general practitioner (GP), practice nurse, midwife, local accident and medical centre, family planning clinic, pharmacist (chemist), physiotherapist, optometrist (for eye care), dentist or complementary health practitioner.
Your local GP and community-based accident and medical centres can treat many injuries and complaints. If your condition requires hospital care a GP or midwife can give you a letter of referral to see a specialist (either in a public hospital or private clinic).
For all serious injuries and complaints you should go to a public hospital emergency department directly or in an ambulance (phone 111 if it is a life-threatening emergency).
If you are not sure about whether you need medical help you can phone Healthline on freephone 0800 611 116. Healthline lets you talk to a registered nurse any time, 24 hours a day, and it is free and confidential. The staff at Healthline will advise you what action to take. Healthline also incorporates PlunketLine, which is responsible for advice for children under five years of age.
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